Self-Love September; Pitfalls and Mistakes to Avoid

If I've learned anything over the years, it's that self-love is a daily practice Some days are easier, and some are damned difficult to survive, let alone doing anything supportive or loving for myself. I think back to days when I was recovering from an emergency appendix removal surgery, a 2-month-old baby in my arms, high as a kite on Tylenol #3's, and feeling utterly exhausted. It was all I had just to finish feeding him the bottle and hand him off to my mom before I collapsed into bed to sleep. Self-love for me that day was having the wisdom to realize I couldn't recover from surgery and care for a newborn all by myself, that I needed to sleep, and that I needed to accept someone else snuggling my baby for a while.

Fast forward nearly 9 years, and now that newborn baby is in grade 4, a busy, energetic and intelligent kid who loves video games and Pokemon. My self-love practise has changed as drastically as he has, and I now take off once a week, leaving all 3 of my kids to my husband so I can have an evening to myself, to do whatever I want, go out and have expensive tea at Starbucks, or read while I eat a piece of cheesecake at my favourite restaurant, free from the burdens of putting unwilling kids to bed.

Me with 4.5 month-old Andrew. Isn't he the cutest?
It's my mission, every day, to do something loving for myself, and while it isn't always easy, it is always necessary if I want to keep up a healthy relationship with both myself, and others. Raising tiny humans is exhausting, and my job as a tarot reader means that sometimes I can take on a little too much of other people's energy, so my self-love practice has become even more vital than ever. But there are some pitfalls and failures that I can find myself making from time to time, and I'd like to share them with you, so that you may not make the same mistakes I have.

Pitfall #1: Setting up boundaries you don't intend to maintain.
It's one thing to say that you're not going to take something anymore, but it's a whole other ballgame when it comes to keeping that promise to yourself. Boundaries are a healthy way to make sure that you're not giving more than you're getting but keeping up with them can be exhausting at times. If you're going to set up a boundary, especially one that establishes a whole new dynamic to a long-term relationship, you're going to need to remember that there is a period of time where you will both need to get used to it. You will need to remind them that you're not doing that thing anymore, you'll need to sigh and patiently reinforce a new precedent. You may even be confronted with anger, confusion, or destructive behaviours that are attempting to breakdown your new barrier. If you're not really prepared to maintain it, don't set up new boundaries.

Pitfall #2: Assuming that once you get to x-place, you'll be set for life.
Self-love is not a destination. It's not a final place and feeling you get to, and that's it, you love yourself and you don't have to keep up a whole bunch of habits anymore. The ways we love ourselves and feel about ourselves change as we age and as we as people change. How you showed yourself love at 14 might not work at 24 or 34 anymore, and as your appearance and body changes over the years, there are new things about yourself to discover and learn to accept lovingly. Self-love is a practice that spans a lifetime, so don't assume that you'll always just be the same and skip out on the work. Daily practice is the best way to maintain a healthy self-loving relationship with yourself.

Pitfall #3: Choosing only one area to work on in self-love.
Self-loving actions and practices don't just look like eating a balanced diet, taking yourself to the gym or out for exercise, and getting a good night's sleep. Good mental health is just as important to self-love as physical health is, so don't forget to indulge in Lush bath bombs, meditations under your favourite tree at the local park, petting soft kittens or puppies, and nights out with your friends fueled with maybe a bit too much wine here and there. Self-love can look like so many different things; staying home from a dreaded party to read all night, eating Ben and Jerry's and watching your favourite guilty-pleasure show or movie, getting your nails done professionally, even treating yourself to a childhood favourite candy or snack here and there. What's self-loving for one person may not be for another, so don't forget the power of individualism and personal taste!

Self-love at its peak for me: paddleboarding on the slough sans kiddos.
Pitfall #4: Stuffing all the feels down and not sharing your story.
If there is one thing that I've learned, it's that it is far easier to love yourself with all your failures and mistakes when you can share that experience and vulnerability with someone else. It can really help to take the guilt and loathing away when you talk about these parts of yourself that are hard to love with someone else who's been there too. Whether that person is a counsellor, qualified therapist or health care practitioner, or its a family member, best friend, or hey, maybe even your neighbourhood tarot reading (*waves*), it's important to unburden yourself once in a while and come clean about al the reasons self-love is so hard for you. You will most likely be amazed by the response you get - similar stories or actions they are ashamed of, a wave of love and acceptance regardless of what you did or who you are, and so much more. Remember we're all on this journey together, and no one is perfect. It's easier to accept yourself when you're not alone.

Pitfall #5: Bouncing back and forth between all-or-nothing practices.
If there is anything that can kill a self-love practice it's a manic bouncing back and forth between going all-in on self-love practices, then cutting them out entirely. Consistency is a key factor to the success of a healthy and effective self-love practice, and not just doing stuff until it works and then stopping. I'm not saying it's not okay to fall off the bandwagon sometimes and have to get back on track, but it should be done with an awareness that you'll be getting back into gear with the intent to maintain, guilt-free that you did fall off in the first place. Things happen. We get sick, big upheavals happen in our lives, but a self-love practice should be able to continue through most crises or at least be picked up again afterwards without any self-loathing heaped on top. If you're starting again though because you deliberately stopped thinking you were "done" then know that if you start again, it should be with the intent to continue on, indefinitely. As I said before, self-love is the practice of a lifetime, not as a band-aid

I hope I've given you an idea of some of the mistakes to avoid making on your self-love journey and remember, it's okay to make mistakes, as long as you learn from them and carry on. Don't hold yourself accountable to unrealistic expectations when it comes to what you can do for yourself. Start small, and build up your practice and routine as time goes on. This is a journey of self-discovery as much as anything, so enjoy yourself along the way.


With love and blessings,
Jess, Stellar Tarot

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